Big Bow Day Out

Visiting London this summer and fancy doing something different? What about a big day out in Bow in east London? Begin your visit with a ride on the Docklands Light Railway to Stratford where you can explore the recently opened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Bring your swimming things to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy an Olympic-quality swimming experience at municipal pool prices in the Aquatics Centre. Then hop back on the DLR to Bow Church station. If the weather is kind you might picnic in the peaceful and pretty Memorial Garden alongside Grove Hall Park.

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From there, slip into the Nunnery to view the East London Group of Artists Exhibition (on until Sunday 13 July). Many of the paintings displayed depict a curiously soft-focus inter-war East London. Railways, wharves, roads and bridges are popular themes – and the surrounding streets are often eerily deserted.

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Detail from Bow Bridge (Walter Steggles), undated.
Detail from Railway Fence (Walter Steggles) c.1928
Detail from Railway Fence (Walter Steggles) c.1928.

Some half a dozen works exhibited feature localities that lie beyond East London – but invariably these possess an East End link. Canvey Island in Essex, for example, has long been a popular destination for day trippers from the city.

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Detail from Canvey Island (Walter Steggles) c.1933

On leaving the exhibition, call in at the neighbouring Carmelite Cafe for slices of home-made cake served on cute bone china plates. Or, for a more gritty or traditional east London experience, visit the Bow Bells pub on Bow Road (keeping an eye out for the lurid paintwork on the walls as you head up the stairs to the toilets). Make time to appreciate some of the smaller historic details as you wander between station, park, gallery, pub and tube, such as this beautifully-worked wrought-iron SALOON LOUNGE sign over the doorway of the former Kings Arms pub on Bow Road.

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If you have time afterwards, you might like to view the spot where peace activist Mohandas Gandhi stayed when he visited London in 1931. Kingsley Hall is situated just off the Bow Road and offers meals in its 3 Bees Cafe every Tuesday from 4pm to 7pm.

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